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The Selkie: A Song of Many Waters

by Fay Roberts

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    Once upon a time, there was a poet, who had no notion that they were anything other than a singer who wanted to be a healer. Through a series of unfortunate - but all too common - occurrences, our poet-to-be found themself adrift in a world outwith the comfortable confines of the cove in which they’d laboured lightly for a handful of years and found themself eddying in a kind of comfortably miserable holding pattern, never quite breaking out of the small, circular current in which they sang, played, loved, and fought with various other denizens of the waterways.
    Finally, in desperation, they crossed a bridge at another’s behest to what turned out to be a desert that swallowed their voice and cracked their skin, the fissures penetrating all the way to their heart.
    Fifteen years later, give or take a month, they find themself scrawling verses as easily as they used to trawl for flotsam, and, while their path still spirals from time to time, they’ve learned the knack of leaning against the current and poling into faster waters when the time is right.
    The fact that, time and again, there have been other people around them to steady the craft, buoy the poet, and lend their weight to the oars cannot be underplayed.
    The poet is who they are because of all the hands, eyes, and hearts who’ve gripped them, even in passing, even in pain, but especially in love.
    The poet still sings. But now they tell tales and write rhymes (and unrhymes), and they think they may have found some ways to mend the cracks made by venturing, unprepared, into the desert, or at least to gild them. If you listen long enough, they may tell you.
    Acknowledgements and Thanks:
    There are almost too many people to thank for the shape this has turned up in, but here goes:
    Terrie Howie (“Red Phoenix”), Tina Sederholm, Marion Leeper, Matt Widgery, Wesley Freeman-Smith, Nikki Marrone, Uppahar Subba, Mal Faloon, Emma Ormond, Jack Bateman, Tim Knight, H Robin Gurney, Hannah Chutzpah, Mark McGivern, Catherine Wilmore (and Cambridge Junction in general), Vanessa Jonklas, Robin Lamboll, Elaine Ewart, Matt Panesh, Mark Gordon, Carla Keen, Roger Bennett, Averil Stewart, James Stedman, Sa’adiah Khan, Gav Sirisena, Anaïs Bokanovsky, and anyone whose name I've neglected to mention.
    I’d also like to acknowledge the following organisations, without which this recording would have been nigh-on impossible to produce:
    RØDE Microphones, Audacity®, Cambridge Pianoforte
    ... more
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Prelude 00:56
To Begin 02:38
The Mermaid 04:36
The Man 03:49
The Gifts 03:24
Totem 04:45
Sedna 13:26
Skins 03:32
Lost 01:33
Scorpion Man 05:37
Tarantella 03:20
Misted 01:52
Bheir mi oh a ro van oh; Bheir mi oh a ro van e. Bheir mi oh a ro ho! Sad am I without thee. When I'm lonely dear white heart; Black the night or wild the sea, By love's light my foot finds The old path way to thee. Bheir mi oh a ro van oh; Bheir mi oh a ro van e. Bheir mi oh a ro ho! Sad am I without thee. Thou art music of my heart; Harp of joy oh cruch mo chree Moon of guidance by night; Strength and light thou'rt to me. Bheir mi oh a ro van oh; Bheir mi oh a ro van e. Bheir mi oh a ro ho! Sad am I without thee.
Aderyn Pur 01:41
Aderyn pur a’r adain las, bydd i mi’n was dibryder, O brysur brysia at y ferch lle rhoes i’m serch yn gynnar. Dos di ati, dywed wrthi, ’mod i’n wylo dŵr yr heli; ’Mod i’n irad am ei gwelad, ac o’i chariad yn ffaelu â cherdded, O Dduw faddeuo’r hardd ei llun am boeni dyn mor galed. Pan o’wn i’n hoenus iawn fy hwyl, ddiwrnod gŵyl yn gwylio, Canfyddwn fenyw lana ’rioed, ar ysgafn droed yn rhodio. Pan ei gwelais, syth mi sefais, yn fy nghalon mi feddyliais: Dyma ddynas lana’r deyrnas, a’i gwên yn harddu pawb o’i chwmpas, Ni fynswn gredu’r un dyn byw nad oedd hi rhyw angyles.
Suo Gân 01:45
Huna blentyn ar fy mynwes, Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon; Breichiau mam sy’n dynn amdanat, Cariad mam sy dan fy mron; Ni chaiff dim amharu’th gyntun, Ni wna undyn â thi gam; Huna’n dawel, annwyl blentyn, Huna’n fwyn ar fron dy fam. Huna’n dawel, heno, huna, Huna’n fwyn, y tlws ei lun; Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu, Gwenu’n dirion yn dy hun? Ai angylion fry sy’n gwenu, Arnat ti yn gwenu’n llon, Tithau’n gwenu’n ôl dan huno, Huno’n dawel ar fy mron?
Star Music 01:09
Sedna's Song 02:30
Black is the color of my true love’s hair Her face is something wondrous fair The purest eyes, the fairest hands. I love the ground whereon she stands... I love my love, and well she knows I love the ground whereon she goes And still I hope the time will come When she and I will be as one. Black is the colour of my true love’s heart She thinks that she is very smart But wherever she wanders in distant far lands I’ll find the ground whereon she stands...
When I beheld the green land, After time in the desert sere, With the tears like rain upon my face, I knew my home was here. Chorus: Seven years I’d wandered; Seven years away. Across the wide ocean blue, To return someday. When I first beheld my true love’s face At the turning of the day, I felt like I had come home From longest time away. Chorus: Seven years I’d wandered; Seven years astray. Across the wide ocean blue, To return someday. I looked my lover in the eye And I swear I heard him say: I will be coming home, my love Though I may be long away. Chorus: Seven years he’ll wander; Seven years away. Though many foreign seas he sails He will return one day. When I behold my lover’s face I’ll hold it in my hands And listen rapt with eyes aglow To talk of foreign lands. And then I’ll take him by the hand And lead him to my bed And he will know what’s in my heart Without a word being said. Chorus: Seven years we’ll wander; Seven years away. Rocking on an ocean wild And the world outside can wait While we sail far away
Turn Again 02:39


The seal woman's skin has been stolen, stranding her on a reef of rage and tragedy. Can she find her true home and let her voice fly free? Fay Roberts (Other Voices, Wild Strawberries, Allographic, Hammer & Tongue) navigates a modern mythological sea journey in poetry, storytelling, and music.



released July 31, 2018

Fay Roberts (words, vocals, percussion, original music) is a peripatetic, percussive performance poet by night, and a professional projector by day. She is a classically-trained singer, a self-taught drummer, a bit of a mumbler sometimes, and speaks with her hands. www.fayroberts.co.uk

Anaïs Bokanovsky (harp, original music) is a harpist, pianist, singer and songwriter from Southern France, and used to be her own teacher at babbling and singing, as a toddler... After training classically for many years, she parted from the Conservatoire, got into folk music, a bit of jazz, and is now a qualified music therapist. www.facebook.com/lovingfolks

Sa’adiah Khan (cover artwork) is a freelance multidisciplinary artist based in Cambridge. Find her on Instagram at @sadisoularts

Gav Sirisena wrote the music for Misted, which inspired the lyrics - tune used with kind permission.

Cover typography designed by Carla Keen.


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Allographic Press UK

Allographic aims to specialise in producing written and recorded publications of poetry, short stories, artwork, photography and music (sometimes all at once...). We plan for our publications to be available to buy online, at our live events, and in the shops, in a variety of media.

We also aim to provide services for writers and performers of poetry, music, and storytelling. Watch this space!
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